Make Your Fan Base Soar

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Shining a spotlight on your newsletter
by Meryl Evans, editor of Professional Services Journal

You click “send” and anxiously wait to see the newsletter’s success rates. That darn “number of subscribers added” number won’t budge, or maybe it changes a piddly amount. Banging your head on the desk, you can’t fathom why those numbers aren’t making you jump for joy. The readers have given positive responses on the feedback form and the content focuses on giving them something rather than sounding like a commercial.

What next? Is this as far as you can go? Thankfully the inventors of the past didn’t let such thinking stop them. Grab a favorite drink to refresh yourself and be ready to take action. Use one or more of the following six ways to see those numbers jump north.

Offer something complimentary for subscribing

Who can resist getting something for nothing, or in this case, subscribing. Subscribing takes little effort and the reader gets useful information from the newsletter. Offer an article, an e-book, a tutorial, anything that is immediately given via a download or on a Web page. Newsletters relating to Web sites could offer graphics or fonts. Sending an item is fine, but it costs money to ship packages.

Using the word “fr.ee” would be better, but those “spahammers” (both words are intentionally misspelled … read on) have taken that away as many filters send anything with that word into the trash bin. Newsletter editors have to take a creative route to work around it.

Contribute an article to another publication

Many newsletter editors are open for submissions from outside contributors, if the materials are related to the content. This can help your subscriptions soar as readers of other publications read your work and learn about your publication via a hyperlink in your bio.

Too often, however, a person submits an article as soon as she finds out a newsletter or Web site accepts contributions. She doesn’t take the time to find out about the topics covered and wastes everyone’s time.

This has happened to eNJ as someone offered an article, a little off the beaten path, about making millions of dollars. When submitting an article, often you can include a bio complete with links and some also take photos for a personal touch.

Seek out other newsletters by going to Google and entering, [topic] newsletter where “topic” is replaced with the area in which you focus. Add more than one word as needed to get the best results. “Race cars newsletter” and “model cars newsletter” would yield different results.

Sites like IdeaMarketers accept submissions, which are reviewed for quality and posted on the site. This particular site is targeted to Internet and technology professionals. Other sites include: PromotionWorld (the “Submit Article” link is on the bottom), and Articles911.

Use a signature in your emails

Safely advertise every time you send an email by including the newsletter’s information in the signature of your email. A good signature is around five lines at the most. When a signature is too long, it is a hindrance not a help, as few scroll through long signatures when they’re trying to get to the next message, especially in a mailing list.

Keep each line short to avoid text wrapping, which makes the signature difficult to read. Signatures can incorporate any of the following: title, company name, URL, newsletter name and URL, phone number(s), addresses, slogan, anything you want to stand out. When it comes to URLs, it’s best to type them out and not use HTML. Some people can’t view emails in HTML, and so they are difficult to read.

Spread the word face-to-face

People become so involved with their online work they forget to spread the message outside of their desks. Add the newsletter’s name and / or URL on business cards. Carry those cards and pass them out any chance you get. Talking about the newsletter is also a good conversation topic. Remember to focus on what the newsletter offers for potential subscribers, not what it does for you.

Encourage forwarding to others

Every issue of Music Insider Magazine has a “Tell a Friend” link, which has recently been changed to “Forward newsletter” since it’s more logical, don’t you think? Many text-based newsletters often begin or end with a message encouraging readers to forward the newsletter or e-zine to others. Some have a note saying, “If you received this from a friend, get your own subscription” followed by subscription instructions.

Find partners for link exchanges

This one takes more work, but it pays dividends especially when you find the right partners. A link exchange is what it sounds like: “You post my link and I’ll post yours.” Some post these links on a list of recommended resources on their Web site. Some put it on the newsletter subscription thank you page. Some do both. Another way is to include the link in an issue of the newsletter.

Two newsletters that have reviews of Web sites have done a link exchange. They include the link within the newsletter along with a review of the newsletter’s contents. When doing a link exchange, it’s effective to find others who have content of interest to your readers. If you have a newsletter about your band, a person with a newsletter on the  fishing isn’t going to want to exchange links. Not that there aren’t people who are into both fields, but the likelihood may be small.

Do readers a favor and be discriminating by picking resources that you believe are of high quality. If readers constantly receive poor recommendations, then their trust in the newsletter is likely to go down the drain—maybe enough that they’ll unsubscribe.

Eagerly await the results

After you have taken one or some of these six speedy steps towards subscription stardom, the next time you click “send,” you’ll feel confident and eager instead of worried and anxious. The more you do, the more those numbers go up.

P.S. Notice the bio and photo coming up! 🙂

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